Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
Dear Friends,
Here’s some food for thought for the summer:

  • Does volunteerism discourage initiative and self-help and make those at the receiving end dependent on hand-outs?
  • Does it help -- or hurt -- to have rock stars and TV personalities, such as Bono, Shakira, Winfrey get involved in discussions of poverty and other global challenges?
  • Does it matter how a philanthropist makes his money so long as he/she gives it away?
  • Can giving and profit-making be combined?

Some of these questions have been answered in a recent book Philanthrocapitalism:  How Giving Can Save the World by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, summarized in this issue of Empower.

But that’s one view point. You may hold a different perspective on the same questions. There is no right or wrong answer.

I hope the interviews of Rachel Centariczki, Jane Goodall, Bridget Feldman, and Bart Weetjens, contained in this issue will provide further perspectives on giving.

Enjoy Empower!

Lara Mitra

What’s In This Issue

1. Interview With Jane Goodall, Primatologist…2
2. Interview With Bart Weetjens, Director, APOPO…4
3. Interview With Rachel Centariczki, Mid-Atlantic
   Program Facilitator, Ashoka Youth Venture.…6
4. Philanthrocapitalism A Book Summary...…9
5. Experiences and Reflections of AMIGOS
   Volunteer Bridget Feldman..........10
6. Orphanages Or Foster Care: Which Is A
   Better Option? Lara Mitra........12

Page 1
An Interview With Jane Goodall, Primatologist
“We each have the choice, every minute of every day, about what impact we’re going to make on the earth.” —Jane Goodall
Lara: Why is
animals so
especially when
there are so
many human beings in need of protection?

Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
Dr. Goodall:  Protecting both humans and animals is important. But I strongly believe that we must each focus on pursuing one’s own particular passion. The Roots and Shoots program that we run for young people offers the opportunity to do so. Roots and Shoots is about making positive change happen for our communities, for animals, and for the environment. It aims to motivate young people to learn about pertinent issues facing our local and global communities, and helps them to design, lead and implement their own projects as a means of solving them whether the projects are for humans, animals, or the environment. Young people can choose what they are most passionate about.

Lara:  Do chimpanzees and orangutans do “community service”?

Dr. Goodall: I would not call it community service, but, yes, animals do engage in altruism.

Let me give you
some examples. Zoo
chimps are known to
have risked their
lives to save
drowning chimps.
Then there is the
chimp who adopted
an orphan chimp
despite risking his
social hierarchy
among his peers. I
must also tell you
about a young chimp
who was eating a
fruit. An older chimp
saw the fruit and
grabbed it from
the young chimp.
The young
chimp’s older
brother witnessed
this incident and,
in defense of the

young chimp, attacked the older chimp. Just then, the elderly mother of the older chimp who was being attacked, jumped from above and broke-up the fight to protect her son.  

Lara:  Do chimpanzees indulge in deceitful behavior? Can they put-on an act?

Dr. Goodall:  Chimps are known to withhold information, and, in that sense, deceive. I once hid crates of bananas in a forest. A young chimp spotted the bananas but seeing that his friends were all around him, suppressed his happy sound. Then realizing that he could not keep his gaze off the bananas, he got up and went away and waited until all his friends had left so that he could have the bananas all to himself when he returned.

Lara:  Is animal testing a necessary evil or should it be stopped immediately?

Dr. Goodall:  A lot of animal testing is unnecessary and there are often alternatives

to it. Thanks to animal
rights activists, an
increasing number of
people recognize that
animals have feelings
and are in favor of
using as few animals
for testing as possible. I
would like all people to
recognize that animal
testing causes suffering
and that we need to
find alternatives
urgently.  Until we find
alternatives, and if
animals must be used
for specific tests, we
Page 2
should use as few animals as possible and treat them as well as possible.

Lara:  What is the main message of your new book “Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink”?

Dr. Goodall: It is as I say in the introduction to my book: even when our mindless activities have almost entirely destroyed some ecosystem or driven a species to the brink of extinction, we must not give up. Thanks to the resilience of nature and the indomitable human spirit, there is still hope. Hope for animals and their world. And it is our world, too.

Lara:  What general advice do you have for me and my fellow students?

Dr. Goodall:  Question,  question, question, question. Do not take things for granted.  If each and every one of us considers the impact of our choices on animals and the environment, then we will make better choices, and all species will be able to co-exist in harmony.

Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
Jane Goodall and Roots and Shoots
Jane Goodall with Freud
Photographs courtesy of the Jane Goodall Institute
Page 3
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
ProductOntwikkeling or Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development) as an NGO the following year--APOPO would train and employ the Giant Pouched Rat, a common African rodent, in landmine detection. The attractiveness of rats for land mine detection was that they were light enough in weight not to set off a landmine even if they walked over one. APOPO rats would not have to be sent on suicide missions or be made into Kamikazes.       

Lara: Are dogs more intelligent than rats? What advantages do rats offer over dogs in landmine detection?

Mr. Weetjens: Rats may be more “mechanical” than dogs, and therefore, in some sense, less “intelligent.” But this difference does not adversely affect the landmine detection capabilities of rats because landmine detection is a mechanical process.

As for the smelling capacities of rats for explosive targets versus those of dogs, nobody has yet been able to quantify them. It is clear from experience, however, that the smelling capacities of both rats and dogs are sufficient to detect vapor from buried landmines. But one clear advantage of rats is that because of their smaller size, their
Lara: What's new about APOPO and how did you get the idea?

Mr. Weetjens: While previously heavy machinery and sometimes dogs were used to detect landmines, APOPO pioneered the use of rats for landmine detection. The idea of experimenting with rats first came to me when I read about olfactory (smell-based) discrimination of explosives by lab rats in American scientific journals. In the 1990s, I visited countries where landmines were taking the lives of unsuspecting women and children almost every day.

For example, women were often severely injured while collecting firewood and doing other daily chores. Though international agencies were searching for solutions to the landmine problem in order to protect such vulnerable women and make it safe for aid workers to bring supplies to people in conflict-affected areas, all their solutions relied upon expensive foreign technologies and machinery which poor nations in Africa could barely afford.

I knew there had to be a locally-based alternative and I set-out to find a solution that would fit the African context. In 1997, I initiated a feasibility study and based on its positive findings, established APOPO (Anti Persoonsmijnen ontmijnende
Page 4
nose is always close to the ground even if their head is raised. The highest vapor concentration and lowest wind speed are found close to the ground, thus increasing the chances of a rat’s accuracy. Moreover, another important advantage of rats is their relative independence from a personal handler. Generally, rats show no significant difference in performance when taken over by somebody else in the absence of their own handler (of course, the new handler would have to be briefed before-hand about the behavioral characteristics of the specific rat). Rats are also preferred over dogs because the heavy weight of some dogs would be enough to set off a landmine. Overall, however, rats and dogs can play complementary roles.

Lara: How do you train rats? How long does it take to train a rat? What is the working life of a rat once trained? Does the rat need re-training from time-to-time?

Mr. Weetjens: Rats are trained by a  The combination of click training and food rewarding. In rat school, training starts at the
age of five weeks when juveniles are weaned from their mother. At first, the animals are taught to associate a click sound with a food reward. Then they have to perform certain tasks (e.g., identify an odor) to get a food reward.

After odor imprint, the complexity of their tasks is gradually increased and real life conditions are created. Food provides a strong and controllable source of motivation and an effective drive for performance. The total training schedule and time for landmine detection is half an hour per day, five days a week, for six to ten months. After a rat graduates from training school, it can begin to work in the field. The working life of a rat is up to seven years (their total lifespan being six to eight years).

Lara: Are rats given treats when they find a landmine? If so, what stops them from indicating that they have found a landmine even when they haven’t?

Mr. Weetjens: Yes, rats work for food and look forward to their treat, mainly consisting  of bananas and peanuts. Fortunately, (unlike humans!) rats do not generally cheat—they do not lie that they have found a landmine just in
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
Page 5
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
order to get a treat. If poorly trained, they can, of course, make mistakes.

Lara: Do your rats periodically overlook or miss landmines? Are some rats less trustworthy than others?

Mr. Weetjens: I would not say that some rats are inherently less trustworthy than others. The quality of training can, however, account for differences in how well they perform their work. APOPO takes its training responsibilities very seriously and has strict and frequent quality checks. Rats also have to pass a rigorous test before they can graduate from training school. And if a graduate begins to under-perform in the field, that rat must return to training.

Lara: How do you make absolutely sure that the area cleared by the rats is 100% safe?  Who is the first to tread on the area cleared by the rats?

Mr. Weetjens: Once trained, rats can reliably carry out repetitive tasks. Mine Detection Rats are tested and accredited according to International Mine Action Standards, which provides them with a license to work for 6 months in a suspected area. This external accreditation test is done again every half year, to guarantee the quality of the animals’ performance. APOPO also checks the performance of the animals through daily tests and quality control measures. APOPO field supervisors check that all rats and their handlers are performing to the highest standards.

The overall reliability of clearance is reached by a   combination of different tools: mechanical devices clear the bushes on an area, then rats rapidly screen the area, and indications are followed-up by manual deminers. The combination of different tools generates sufficient information on which the authorities base themselves to release an area. Once a field is cleared of landmines by the rats, APOPO signs-off with the government, who certifies the safety of the field. Then anyone can walk on it.

Lara: What are the key challenges APOPO faces?

Mr. Weetjens: Still the acceptance of a new technology (in the shape of a rat!) is poor. Even if we provide solid evidence on the quality and cost-effectiveness of our approach, the humanitarian demining industry is quite conservative in the adoption of novel techniques. The support of this industry is needed to convince the donors to fund APOPO. However, this is a question of time. As we produce tangible results on cost efficiency, and as donors are keen to get the best clearance rates for their buck, I anticipate a growing acceptance in the donor community.

On the side of the African governments, there is a clear acceptance. The Mozambican government has tasked APOPO with the entire Gaza province in South Mozambique, and 11 Great Lakes Region countries have endorsed APOPO technology to clear mines on their common borders. APOPO has a freely releasing of intellectual property (IP) strategy, which shares the ownership of the technology and empowers local communities.

Lara: How can my friends and I help?

Mr. Weetjens: You can connect to APOPO by adopting one of our HeroRATS. It is a fun program. For only a few dollars per month, you receive letters from your rat!

Check it out at www.herorat.org

Page  6
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
Lara: What was special about your experiences at Peace Corps and AmeriCorps?

Rachel: My time as both a Peace Corps Volunteer and an AmeriCorps VISTA has been phenomenal. I have really lucked out with my roles as an English as a Second Language teacher and my time at Youth Venture, both as part of the AmeriCorps program. I think the important thing to remember is that everyone's Peace Corps and AmeriCorps experiences are extremely different. You might be at the same site as another volunteer, but your time, relationships and experiences will vary greatly.

For Peace Corps I was stationed in the Federated States of Micronesia, on a very small remote island in the state of Chuuk (about an eight hour plane ride from Hawaii). My island was about one-square-mile with a population of 400-500 people. It was very small. It was the perfect assignment for me. Living in such a small community forced me to learn the language. I was the only non-local on the island, so I was forced to integrate into the culture and community. It was amazing! And who doesn't love living on the beach?

With AmeriCorps VISTA, I got my dream job, working with Ashoka's Youth Venture, working with amazing high-schoolers in DC and promoting social entrepreneurship. It combined everything I wanted to do. Youth Venture has given me the opportunity to define my service and put my stamp on the position, to make it my own. I have been given a great deal of independence and support to take on projects. And most importantly, I have so much fun. I love what I do.

Lara: Do you think volunteerism risks discouraging initiative and self-help among those at the receiving end and making them dependent on hand-outs?

Rachel: One of the first things to remember is that both AmeriCorps sites and Peace Corps communities must invite a volunteer into their community. The application process to receive a volunteer requires the host site to consider sustainability and initiative. By inviting a Volunteer into their community they are using their initiative. It is then your job as a volunteer in the community to work on using community members and creating sustainable projects that can live on long past your tenure there.

A perfect example of this was the health clinic on my island. It was started in 1971 by the first volunteer to serve there. That was almost 40 years ago, and the clinic is still up and running, serving as a model for other island communities. Pancho, the former Volunteer, not only helped build the actual building and train health-aids, but he put the leaders of the island in touch with valuable agencies and people that could help them continue to expand and improve their small island clinic. He created a system that could keep expanding and growing without him.

Lara: How do you ensure that your work at Peace Corps and AmeriCorps is continuing to bring benefits in the long term?

Rachel: That is a common question, especially when people ask me about my Peace Corps experience. Our goals, as both Peace Corps Volunteers and AmeriCorps Volunteers, are to

Page  7
encourage sustainable projects.
We are assigned to projects to
build capacity. While we might be
the ones initiating a project, no
project is successful if it is not
long-lasting. Our goal is to train
locals to run each project. A lot of
times it is just making connections
to organizations and systems that
host-country nationals would not
necessarily have access to. For
example, during my time in
Micronesia I started a small
library on my island. It was the
connections Peace Corps helped
me form and my educational
background that allowed me to
find donated books and set up a
functional library. The library is
still running, and the community
just hired their first paid librarian.

Lara: What lessons have you learned at Ashoka that would benefit budding social entrepreneurs?

Rachel: Working at Ashoka's Youth Venture has been an amazing experience. I have met some remarkable agents of change. I think the single greatest thing I have learned is to never stop dreaming.

I remember when I was applying to work with Youth Venture and Romina was interviewing me. A question she asked stood out in my mind for weeks after. I think it was that question alone that made me want to work at Youth Venture. She asked, 'If you had unlimited resources to design and implement any project you wanted, what would it be?" What an amazing question! Think about it, if you could do anything in the world, what would it be? I realized right then that I wanted to work for an organization that had a mindset like that. And I realized I wanted to work in a place that fostered people to think big. So, my advice would be to think big!

Lara: How can Ashoka's Youth Venture Program benefit high school students like me? What are the eligibility requirements?

Rachel: A favorite quote
of mine is, "If you think
that young people are
the leaders of tomorrow,
you are procrastinating".
I think that epitomizes
Youth Venture. Youth
Venture aims to inspire
and support young
people around the world
to be changemakers
today, thus joining our
global community of
like-minded youth.

We encourage young
people to match their
passions with problems
they see in their
they decide to define

community--to create a club or organization that has a benefit to society.

Each idea, club, group, (or Venture as we call it) MUST:

a.Be a new initiative started by young             people
b.Be youth-led
c.Create benefit to the community
d.Have a credible plan that will be                    sustainable
e.Have an adult "ally" willing to                       support, but not control, the venture
f. Involve a strong team
g.Be comprised of Venturers who care            and have the energy to be successful

If you have an idea for a club or organization in your community, feel free to contact me at rcentariczki@youthventure.org and we can continue working towards making it a reality! I can explain the process in greater detail and help you work towards joining our network of young changemakers.

Page  8
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
A recent book Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green argues that philanthrocapitalists (rich people who apply business techniques to their philanthropy, e.g., strategically targeting resources to activities likely to have a high impact and forming productive partnerships) are better-positioned than many others to help solve some of the biggest problems facing our world. According to Bishop and Green, politicians have elections to worry about, company bosses have their shareholders, and most NGOs are forced to spend a lot of time fund-raising. By contrast, philanthrocapitalists have no one to answer to and can take big risks, disregard conventional wisdom, and pursue strategies that bring no quick returns and only yield benefits in the long-run.

The authors argue that if philanthrocapitalism succeeds it will be because philanthropists take impact seriously and apply their business talents just as rigorously as they did when they made their money. But, according to the authors, there are challenges--philanthropy lacks many of the market forces that keep businesspeople disciplined, focused on success, and willing to make the tough decisions necessary to survive and succeed. Philanthrocapitalists must, therefore, rely on self-imposed discipline and focus for their success.

Can philanthropy and profit-making be
combined? The authors point out that
philanthrocapitalists are increasingly trying
to find ways of harnessing the profit motive
to achieve social good, and note that this is
controversial – “isn’t philanthropy supposed
to be about giving away money, not making
more of it?” The authors argue that as
philanthrocapitalists see it, if they can use
their donations to create a profitable
solution to a social problem, it will attract
more capital and thus achieve a bigger
impact than would a solution based entirely
on giving away money was. According to the
authors, philanthrocapitalism is about being
a businesslike giver but they point out that
people can easily confuse being
“businesslike” with becoming more “like a
business” and oppose philanthrocapitalism.

Are celebrities good for addressing social problems? The authors say “yes!” Recently, celebrities and philanthropists have increasingly come together in support of a common cause. Rock star Bono and entrepreneur Bill Gates have joined forces on health in Africa. Television personality, Oprah Winfrey, has financed a school in Africa also in collaboration with the Gates Foundation. Celebrity involvement is particularly good on issues in which mobilizing public opinion is important.

Should one question where and how the rich made their philanthropic millions? The authors, once again, say “yes!” They point out, as billionaire George Soros has himself opined, that the public should hold philanthropists accountable. The authors drive home the point by citing the example of a Russian oligarch who stands accused of stealing assets from the public and who then uses the money to make philanthropic donations. According to the authors, the onus in the social contract should be on the rich to be transparent and accountable.

Page  9
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
This summer I spent
eight weeks as an
AMIGOS de las
Américas volunteer
in Granada,
Nicaragua. The
experience cannot
be described in any
way other than
AMIGOS trains and
sends high school
and college students
to Central and South
America to live with
host families and
work in
collaboration with
Latin American

youth. The American volunteers are put into partnerships and left alone in communities, with a supervisor coming to check on them once a week. The AMIGOS summer typically consists of two main elements - teaching, and the Community-Based Initiative process. Because the theme of the  project in my country, Nicaragua, was “health,” however, there were three core aspects to it.

Health center. First, every morning, my partner and I worked in the small health center in our community for a few hours, folding gauze, filling out prescription sheets, making murals, giving presentations to waiting patients about health topics, filing, and cleaning. The highlight of my work with Doctor Alberto and the nurse, Patricia, was when we got to go on “survey” once a week. Every Wednesday we would go out into the far corners of the community called Capulin Uno (there were 300 families, spread out over a pretty large area) and fill out health information sheets for each household. This was a really eye-opening experience for me because the house that I lived in was relatively the nicest in the community.

A favela in Nicaragua
In comparison, seeing the
poverty in which others
were living was shocking.
We had many interesting
conversations with the
people that lived in these
conditions, and it helped us
to make many new friends
from different, less-educated backgrounds than
our own host family’s.
School. Second, in addition
to working in the center,
every day we taught the
‘fourth and fifth years’
(children ranging from 8 to
14) in a school class). We
taught in Spanish about
varying health themes -

incorporating multiple variations of learning (ex: verbal, visual, musical) and lots of games. The education system in Nicaragua is very irregular, and school was canceled often while we were there - for events ranging from thunderstorms to celebrations (such as when Granada won the national baseball championship).

Community-Based Initiative. The third part of our project with Amigos was called the Community-Based Initiative. We had to hold meetings with the community (including town leaders and kids our age) to agree on a project requiring physical labor for which the community would have to help fundraise (AMIGOS donates part of the money after the project has been approved by the program). We ended up working very closely with the youth group from the Maria Auxiliadora Catholic Church (of which our host sisters were members). The teenagers had to learn how to write a grant application, as well as how to organize a fundraiser. We facilitated a talent show and fiesta to raise the money required for the cost of labor and most materials in order to build a

Page  10
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
wheel-chair ramp for the Health Center. There are a lot of disabled people and diabetics in the town who weren’t able to climb the steep stairs outside, causing the doctor to have to bring all his equipment out into the dirty street. Since getting back to Washington D.C., Doctor Alberto and I have been in contact and he told me that the ramp is functioning very well and has saved worlds of trouble for him and increased the quality of care patients are receiving. This was a learning experience not only for the Latin American youth, but for Sophie and I as well.

Becoming a leader. I became a leader this summer, because I was helping others learn how to be leaders themselves. I loved the Community-Based Initiative process because we all learned from and grew off of each other. As a good friend in the community told me through a letter at the end of the summer, “este verano aprendí que como jovenes somos capaces de lograr muchas cosas y de gran valor...me di cuenta que si uno quiere algo, y lo quiere hacer, lo puede hacer.” - “this summer I learned that as teens we’re capable of accomplishing many things of great value... I found out that if one wants something, and wants to do it, one is able to do it.”

Challenges. Through the Community-Based Initiative process, we faced some challenges because of differences in opinion as to what the project should be. The mayor of my community wanted the ramp to become an ambulance ramp and a new security system for the health center -an
participate. It was a total group effort and everyone was happy with the end result. Another challenge we faced was the planning of lessons for classes in the school. My American partner and I found that the book AMIGOS provides volunteers with, for information on the required topics, was not entirely substantial. However with the help of our supervisor and host family, we were able to manage.

My host family. My host family was definitely the highlight of my summer. They were incredible. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect home, or a more loving and generous group of people. There were no men living in the house (they were either always working or in the United States). The head of the house was my grandmother, Doña Juana, and then her daughters, Simona and Dulce. Simona played the role of our mom, and her two young daughters (Dora and Astryd, 20 and 22 years old) were two of my best friends while I was in Nicaragua. Simona also has an adopted 2-year-old son, Saul, who is one of the most adorable children I have ever met. By the end of the summer he could say the Hispanic name that the family had chosen for me - Karina. I also had another brother, named Tommy (10), who was a grandson of Doña Juana’s. Although these were the only family members that lived in the house, it seemed like practically everyone in the community was related, and people were constantly coming and going, including two precocious and outgoing little cousins named Alicia and Lucita, who kept up a non-stop stream of conversation. I still keep in touch with
unrealistic and
impractical idea for
various reasons. The
youth group we worked
had just formed the
year before and was
still finding its place in
the community. The
leaders (my sister and
the resident beauty
queen of Capulin,
Scarleth) really wanted
to fundraise for the
ramp themselves, and
we agreed that it would
be an excellent way to
empower the youth in
the group. They raised
all the necessary
money, and ended up
getting the whole
community to

them, calling about
every two weeks.
I’m also in touch with my two host sisters, who can
access Facebook
through computers
in their schools. I call
various “relatives”
and members from
the youth group
every so often as
well. Every call ends
with “¿cuándo vas a
regresar a
Nicaragua?” - “When
are you going to
return to

Briget Feldman and her AMIGOS Group
Page  11
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
Whether one is in Bangladesh or Belgium, the debate about which is superior—institutionalization of children in orphanages or foster care programs—is a raging one. UNICEF estimates that there are roughly 130 million orphaned children worldwide today.* Most people agree that orphanages and foster care are both generally superior options than leaving orphaned or abandoned children to fend for themselves. But few agree on which is a better option between orphanages and foster care. 

Some argue that foster care programs are better than orphanages because they provide the child with a more real-life family setting in which the child can develop a healthy relationship with “parents.” Foster care programs also make it more likely that the child will receive greater individual attention than in an orphanage, where there is a danger of him/her being “lost” in a sea of children all clamoring for attention and care. 

But foster care programs can have their own flaws. Depending on how the child is treated, he/she may or may not develop a healthy relationship with “parents” and “siblings.” The problem gets accentuated when the primary motivation for a foster parent in taking in a child is the financial stipend provided by the government rather than a genuine love and concern for the child. Abusive foster parents are also not unheard of. Furthermore, the constant uprooting of a child from one foster care family to another can have detrimental psychological effects. The child may not develop a sense of belonging and the emotional scars from being “given up” periodically may take a long time to heal. Constant movement from one home to another negates perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of a foster care program – the opportunity for a child to bond with a “parent” or “sibling.”

Some countries have endorsed one system over the other, but a worldwide consensus is yet to be reached on which is better and why. What has universally been established is that maximum interaction between a child and its birth

family is ideal. The first best option must, therefore, always be that the orphan remains with a surviving parent if there is one, or with relatives—immediate or distant. But what happens when the surviving parent or extended family is unwilling or unable to take on the responsibility of raising the child? Should the child be sent to an orphanage or should foster care be preferred?

Orphanages may facilitate the monitoring of a child’s well being by the government through the routine inspection of a few facilities, instead of having to monitor widely dispersed foster care homes. Furthermore, orphanages may provide children with a group of peers with whom they can relate because of their common experience and circumstances. Abuse may also be more difficult when children possess the power of numbers in orphanages. But orphanages are known to often cause a variety of problems of their own. One study suggests that girls living in orphanages are more susceptible to emotional disorders while boys face behavioral problems.

A consensus has still not been reached on which is better. I would argue, however, that the debate has been wrongly framed. One system may offer advantages over the other in some respects and in some circumstances while the other may be more advantageous in others. The decision of whether to support institutionalization in orphanages or foster care should be based on the specificities of the particular case at hand, especially the quality of the institutional care versus foster care that is available, the psychological condition of the child, and his/her particular emotional needs. Like so many things in life, here too the answer to the question of which is better needs to be “it depends.”

*"UNICEF Data on Orphans by Region to 2010 [Chart]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #293, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/293 (accessed April 24, 2010). The definition of an orphan for statistical purposes is a child under 18 years old who has lost one or both parents; children are no longer considered orphans after they reach 18 years of age.

Page  12
Empower                                                                   Issue 4                                                                  October 2010
Tried and Tested Community
Service Opportunities:

Sidwell Friends School Community Service home page: http://sidwell.edu/upper_school/communityservice.asp

Roots and Shoots: http://www.rootsandshoots.org/
APOPO:  http://www.apopo.org/

Ashoka Youth Venture: http://www.ashoka.org/youthventure
Amigos de las Americas: http://www.amigoslink.org/

For more information about these opportunities, please email:lara@empower-through-service.org


Lara Mitra


Jane Goodall
Bart Weetjens
Rachel Centariczki
Bridget Feldman
Lara Mitra

Special Thanks To:

David Connell, Director of Community Service,  and Gaby Grebski, Counselor, Upper School, Sidwell Friends School

Page  13
Shakira and Philanthropy – From the Columbia Turning Point website
How Rachel is A Changemaker
Planning for the future. If I cound change one thing about the program, I would organize more debriefing and culture shock preparation (within the Amigos chapters in the United States) after returning home. It’s been really hard for me to come back and focus on my life here in Washington, DC, because I am constantly thinking about my home in Nicaragua and what else I can do to help all the people that I met, and others in similar situations. After having met so many people who are impoverished and struggling to make a better life for themselves, I have a new-found perspective on my life here. It makes it hard to keep from feeling guilty sometimes – but it also makes me eager to go off to college and learn more about development and how I can further address issues in Latin America. This program has given my goals in life purpose and direction, and has shaped the way I see the world. I plan to return to the organization as soon as I am able.